Best Bottles for Home Brewing

26 Jan 2015

Which beer brands have the best bottle and label combinations for home brew reuse? I have some opinions on the topic, so here’s what I think…

Background

I recently started brewing beer with a couple friends. Of the three of us, two have zero experience. Since I’m one of the two, I thought I’d share some pointers about bottle selection that I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks. By no means is this a pro list, just where I’m at right now.

Basics

I won’t say "obviously" because I was a beginner once, but you’ll need to select bottles that are resealable. This means the bottle cannot be a twist-off top. Great news! you’re already drinking better beer (probably) than you would if twist-off bottles were an option.

I’m lazy and cheap, therefore I want to spend as little money and as little time possible to get a bottle that can be sterilized. I want to be able to take dozens of bottles and remove all the paper and glue from them with as little effort, money, and time as possible. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Grab a waterproof container
  2. Add soap at bottom
  3. Fill with bottles face up
  4. Start filling with water (the more spray the better, bubbles ftw!)
  5. Get all the paper parts under water
  6. Leave for a couple days

This process should take around 3-5 minutes (feel free to microwave something delicious while you’re doing this). You’ll come back to this bucket/bin in a couple days, hopefully you have space to keep this receptacle, otherwise, make sure you can care it to a garage or basement room out of the way of your housemates.

Home brewing bottles soaking in soap

Days Later

When you’re free for a good 10-20 minutes (depending on how many bottles), empty your soaking device however you think you should. I’m not here to tell you what do, I’ll trust that you can do this on your own. I recommend a simple scouring pad, I use a typical yellow and green one, but I’m thinking I should get some copper pads for the future. Remove from water, peel off lables, and remove any glue/paper with the scouring pad. From here, you’re free of debris and good to sterlize!

Categories

I broke up the bottles I’ve tried into four categories. There is Best, Good, Okay, and Bad. I haven’t come across a bad bottle yet, but that may change. Pardon the crappy photos from my phone, but here’s what those categories mean:

Best

The best home brew bottle after soak

Good

A good home brew bottle after soak

Okay

An okay home brew bottle after soak

Brands of Bottles

The real reason I’m sharing my thoughts here is to keep a list of bottle brands that are super easy to remove labels from. I’ll keep this list up to date as I keep trying different kinds, but here’s my list of top brands to use for their ease of use when home brewing and reusing bottles:

Best

  1. Anchor Brewing (I have honestly seen both labels fall off when pulling them out of the soapy water)
  2. New Belgium
  3. Boulevard
  4. Great Divide
  5. Grolsch†

Good

  1. Kirin
  2. Breckenridge
  3. Guiness Blonde

Okay

  1. Kona

Conclusion

Anything listed in Best, Good, or Okay is easily cleaned up. The closer to Best just means that it takes less effort. Even the bottles listed in Okay are still usable, they’re just a little more annoying than others. If you feel my list is missing something, let me know, I’ll give it a go and see where it belongs. If you have tips for me, I’m also interesting in learning better/faster/cheaper ways to get bottles ready for brewing. Again, I’m new to this, so don’t assume my advice is flawless. I hope this helps you in your home brewing experiences, and thanks for checking it out.

Updates

This list last updated February 11th, 2015.

 This only makes the list because of the built in cap. The labels would bring it down to a "Good", use at your own discretion.

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